Adventures in Gaming: Casting Call (Part 1)
As I mentioned briefly in my introduction to the site, I love old school adventure games. Especially ones before they became point and click. Kids these days, with their damn “mouse,” and their rap music and their complicated shoes. Get off my lawn!
I thought about doing a rundown of some of my favorite adventure games, but you can find those all over the place. So instead, I decided to come up with something a little different – what if we took some great adventure titles, put ourselves into Kerry Barden’s shoes and imagine we’re a casting director in charge of tapping actors to play the leading roles in an upcoming movie adaptation. Oh, what’s that? You’re saying this also isn’t a unique idea at all on the internet?
Well first of all shut up, I didn’t ask for your opinion you lousy know-it-all. And second, I’m doing this anyway, so strap in or bail now. But if you stick around, just know that you do have a homework assignment!
The Secret of Monkey Island
The Monkey Island series seems ripe for a movie franchise, or at least some made-for-TV schtick. Pirates of the Caribbean managed to at least keep turning a profit even after the films quickly spiraled downward from a fun first film to inane drivel. A Monkey Island movie would be made is the same vein as Pirates of the Caribbean (fitting, since game creator Ron Gilbert admits he ripped off the Pirates of the Caribbean ride for his game before Disney ripped off his game for their movies); big action pieces mixed in with some witty banter and slapstick. With a rich universe in the games to pull from and some already well developed characters, the right director could make something really enjoyable.
My initial plan was to run screenshots of characters (whenever possible) through some random “celebrity lookalike” apps to try and keep this list from being overly biased towards actors I personally enjoy. However, when I tried to run ol’ Guybrush through one, I got the results below, so maybe that wasn’t such a great idea.
So keeping mind that these choices were made based on who I thought of first when thinking about the characters, here’s my picks for a Monkey Island cast:
Guybrush Threepwood: Ryan Gosling
Gosling might, at first glance, appear too chiseled and manly to be the occasionally blundering Guybrush, but he’s actually turned in performances as a quirky and shy but lovable character before, and has some experience with campier entertainment. A Monkey Island movie would have some action, which Gosling is more than capable of handling. Gosling hasn’t done a straight comedy, but he has been in some rom-coms and certainly has the timing to deliver nice one-liners. Having Gosling star in the movie would also lend some credence to a film that would almost certainly only get buzz among the section of gamers who grew up on adventure games otherwise.
Elaine Marley: Bryce Dallas Howard
The nerd fan boy in me wanted to take the easy way out and choose Felicia Day as the red-headed actress to play a red-headed character from a video game, but the guy with a huge crush on Bryce Dallas Howard in me overrode that idea. Day would certainly be a good choice, but whoever plays Elaine has to pull off both the role of a powerful governess while also being a beautiful adventurer and Day might not quite fit the former. (Nerd fan boy in me would like to interrupt and point out that Karen Gillan could also do a fabulous job in this role, and guy with a huge crush on Bryce Dallas Howard has no response other than, dude, Bryce Dallas Howard, shut up). Howard hasn’t done a lot of action, but she was in the latest Terminator movie, and also in Twilight, where she might have done some action but I don’t know because all I know about Twilight is that it is a thing that shouldn’t exist. Regardless, I think Howard fits the part and could pull it off with aplomb.
Captain LeChuck: Jeff Bridges
This one was harder for me to pick, mostly because the role of LeChuck wouldn’t require stellar casting; I’m assuming there would be a lot of editing in post to make whoever plays LeChuck look tall, smoldering and ghouly. So I went with an actor who’s always enjoyable, has experience being a villain who was heavily edited in post, another villain in an action movie, can do action and has great over-the-top comedy chops. Plus, if you don’t approve of putting the Dude in your movie, then you must not like good movies you damn dirty communist.
(Bonus Pick!) Director: Judd Apatow
Apatow has exclusively dabbled in the comedy (occasionally fixing a ‘romantic’ on the front for the ladies… or me, I like rom-coms too… ladies), but if you watch some scenes you’ll find that he’s actually a brilliant action director. Rewatch Pineapple Express when you get a chance (if you haven’t already watched Pineapple Express we can’t be friends), paying close attention to the cinematography during the car chase or the fight scene in Danny McBride‘s living room. Since a Monkey Island film would probably lean 60/40 on comedy/action, I think it would give Apatow a great opportunity to branch out and expand his interest in action directing.
Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
Ok, so I don’t really need to cast Indiana Jones for you. But if anyone were to ask my opinion on the script for the next Indiana Jones film (Hollywood, don’t ask my opinion, I’m a moron), they could just use this game for the script. The plot of this game is fantastic, classic Indy stuff. Even Spielberg admitted that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the There Is No Goodness in the World had a kinda terrible plot, but that he gives Lucas 100% control over the story of the Indy films. Well, maybe Spielberg could circumvent the current terrible iteration of George Lucas (or mayhaps the genius Lucas who has merely sold out art for mass popularity) while staying true to his word by basing the entire game on a classic LucasArts (RIP) plot.
Sierra’s Adventure Series
This article is rapidly bloating on me, so we’ll finish up with a bonus round: casting the main character from my three favorite Sierra adventure titles.
(Space Quest) Roger Wilco: Alan Tudyk
This was actually the pairing that inspired me to write this post. Tudyk has a crazy diverse list of roles to his credit that could lend himself to playing a bumbling space janitor who smirks his way through amazing adventures, from zanier voice over work to vampire hunting action. Most importantly, of course, is that he already has experience in space. Plus, when Tudyk goes full comedy he’s freaking hysterical, and Space Quest would be almost exclusively comedy, though with some heart (the closest parallel I can think of would be Galaxy Quest.) Tudyk also looks the part, and could play Wilco both as a humble janitor and as the accidental hero he becomes.
(Quest For Glory) The Hero: Ben Foster
The Hero actually takes almost a back seat in the Quest for Glory games: sure, he’s going through the quest and whatnot, but he’s just the strong silent type. The intrigue in the universe around him comes from the fantastic events that happen to him, not really anything the protagonist does himself. So all we really need is a blonde actor who can handle action and maybe has some experience working with CG creatures. Foster is a great actor who could bring a lot more subtle nuances to the part, but the bottom line is he’s more than capable of handling what’s required of the lead in a Quest for Glory series of movies. The games contain many scenes that would translate amazingly to the big screen: playing chutes and ladders using magic spells after being shrunken onto a game board by Erasmus, sneaking past the kobold, fighting a djinn through the hallways of a generic-ish Middle Eastern town, finding a giant waffle rolling across a savanna (and then fighting evil on the savanna with giant lion-men.) Foster has been in some successful movies but hasn’t seemed to catch on as a strong leading man; maybe it’s time we handed him the keys to a franchise where he fights, thieves and/or magics himself through several very different fantasy worlds.
(King’s Quest: Heir Today Gone Tomorrow) Prince Alexander: Matthew Lewis
I decided that the best place to start a King’s Quest movie franchise would actually be with the sixth installment of the series: Heir Today Gone Tomorrow. Although King’s Quests 1 has some good stuff in it, the plot would seem largely generic to people that have grown up with fantasy in the mainstream. KQ6, though, is an epic tale that reaches from political intrigue to fights with mythological creatures (the minotaur, to be precise) and even contains some homages to Alice in Wonderland. Plus, if this film is a success you can film the franchise backwards: do a prequel with King’s Quest 3 where Prince Alexander begins as the wizard’s slave Gwydion before finding out his dad is King Graham, and then make all the King Graham movies you want. Take that, chronology!
As for the casting, I struggled with this one for a bit. Alexander is sort of your typical prince looking dude who at least bucks the trend of these other adventure games by not being blonde. At first I was resigned to throw Ryan Reynolds in there as the generic hunky-action guy, but then I had a stroke of genius: Matthew Lewis, a.k.a. Neville Longbottom would be perfect for the role. He’s developed into quite the hunk himself, so he could easily pull off the princely vibe. However, Alexander also has some of the everyman-hero persona to him – he’s not an expert swordsman, rather, in the penultimate fight scene Alexander can barely lift the sword as he struggles to swing it; he does good because he’s determined to do the right thing, not because he’s the most epic warrior in the land. Lewis already captured that with Neville, just take Deathly Hallows Neville and you basically have Prince Alexander (bonus: earlier Nevilles would be perfect for the start of the KQ3 movie, so Lewis has already shown the range to play Gwydion/Alexander). Plus he has extensive fantasy experience under his belt while being young enough to pull off being Alexander and then later playing a slightly younger version of the same character.
Your Homework Assignment!
As stated up front, your reward for finishing this article is that I
burden you with work to make my job easier in the future let you in on the fun! I barely scratched the surface of awesome old adventure games, but I’m tired of making my brain think up actors. Your assignment, should you choose or not choose to accept it (I’m making you do this) is to take a gander at some of my other favorite adventure games below and come up with your own casting choices for more movies. Leave your ideas in the comments and I’ll include the best ones in part 2! (also feel free to call me out on my worst choices above and come up with some better ideas, I’ll be glad you bow to your superiority in the followup.)
- Police Quest (series)
- Leisure Suit Larry (series)
- Grim Fandango
- Day of the Tentacle
- Myst (series)
- Gabriel Knight (series)
- The Dig
- Full Throttle
- I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
- The Journeyman Project
- Sam and Max (series)